Skinner believes he’s gotten better at avoiding big hits

It looks like Jeff Skinner might not end up missing too much time with his third career concussion, but the fact that he’s just 22 years old and already has a considerable history of head injuries is something of a concern.

Skinner feels he’s been doing a better job of putting himself in a position to avoid big hits, but obviously he can’t eliminate the risk entirely.

“There has been a lot of things come out and I’m aware of that,” he said, per the News & Observer. “But there’s always new stuff coming out. … It’s a concern, but for me the rehab here is top-notch. My focus is as long as I can come back and recover fully, you get that in my mind and you have that confidence to go back out there.

“It’s a physical game. I think everyone knows there’s going to be injuries. You want to try and avoid them as much as you can but they happen.”

In the case of his latest head injury, Skinner was hurt when Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen’s elbow connected with him. Niskanen argued that Skinner “spun around right into my elbow,” but regardless of who was at fault, Skinner feels he probably shouldn’t have spun and shot in that situation.

“It’s happened before in a game where you spin and shoot and the D-man holds there and tries to block a shot,” Skinner said. “He closed on me and I didn’t expect him to.”

He added that he wants to believe there aren’t players that are deliberately targeting the head of their opponents.

The 22-year-old might make his season debut on Thursday.

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